The present invention generally relates to polymers with lasing characteristics that allow the polymers to be useful in detecting analytes. In one aspect, the polymer, upon an interaction with an analyte, may exhibit a change in a lasing characteristic that can be determined in some fashion. For example, interaction of an analyte with the polymer may affect the ability of the polymer to reach an excited state that allows stimulated emission of photons to occur, which may be determined, thereby determining the analyte. In another aspect, the polymer, upon interaction with an analyte, may exhibit a change in stimulated emission that is at least 10 times greater with respect to a change in the spontaneous emission of the polymer upon interaction with the analyte. The polymer may be a conjugated polymer in some cases. In one set of embodiments, the polymer includes one or more hydrocarbon side chains, which may be parallel to the polymer backbone in some instances. In another set of embodiments, the polymer may include one or more pendant aromatic rings. In yet another set of embodiments, the polymer may be substantially encapsulated in a hydrocarbon. In still another set of embodiments, the polymer may be substantially resistant to photobleaching. In certain aspects, the polymer may be useful in the detection of explosive agents, such as 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) and 2,4-dinitrotoluene (DNT).